Monday, March 10, 2014

Yaluma explains PS on mine boards
By Misheck Wangwe in Kitwe
Fri 06 Dec. 2013, 14:01 CAT

MINES minister Christopher Yaluma says it is a statutory requirement that his permanent secretary should sit on the boards of the mines to provide guidance.

Meanwhile, Yaluma says time has come for him and the PF government to be very tough on foreign mine investors that have refused to give business to locals.

In an interview in Kitwe on Wednesday, Yaluma said the permanent secretary in his ministry, Dr Victor Mutambo, sits on the boards of some mining companies to represent the interests of the government and the Zambians at large.

Yaluma said permanent secretaries in other ministries also sit on boards of various institutions to provide guidance and ensure that the interests of government on behalf of Zambians are protected.

"Yes, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Mines Dr Mutambo sits on the board of First Quantum Minerals and also on the board of KCM. That's by statutory requirement; it is in the mines Act. He provides guidance on what is needed as regards the various laws and anything which is of special interest from the government. The setup of representation of permanent secretaries on various boards is similar across all sectors. I can give you an example of Zambia Railways, the National Airports Corporation and Zesco. There is representation at permanent secretary level of every particular discipline," Yaluma said.

Asked whether it was possible for Dr Mutambo to execute his duties diligently as permanent secretary when on the other hand, he was enjoying incentives of the investors as a member of the board of directors, Yaluma said his involvement was more of serving the interests of government and also to provide guidance as stipulated by the law.

He said the government did not see any conflicts in the situation because the participation of a permanent secretary in any board was clearly stipulated.

"There should be no conflict because if there is any contentious issue that he thinks should not be discussed in that board meeting and he doesn't want to comment, he reports back to the Ministry, we look at it, then it goes back," Yaluma said.

"Take for instance at First Quantum, the PS has no powers to grant or make a decision. Whatever comes from there, if there is anything, he reports back to us. He is a technocrat, a controlling officer vested with powers to listen and guide on what the law stipulates."

And speaking during a meeting with the Association of Mine Suppliers and Contractors and the Kitwe District Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Lunte Lodge, Yaluma said the government was not happy that mining investors had been very treacherous in the manner they were conducting business in the country.

He said local mine suppliers and contractors had been sidelined for a long time, adding that going forward, the government would start to act to protect its people.

"I want to apologise that we have even taken long to act since we came into government two years ago. We must address the huge challenges and hurdles our people are facing in terms of doing business with the mines. Give me up to January and you will see things happening. We are going to make serious decisions as a government because there is no way everything should be going into foreign hands. Even the supply of a simple motor for the mines is done by foreigners; it's unacceptable," Yaluma said.

And speaking earlier, Association of Mine Suppliers and Contractors president Augustine Mubanga said there was need to re-look the mines and minerals Act number seven of 2007 as it was defective on the issues of mines procurement from local companies.

He said the legislation did not provide for punitive action against mining companies that fail to comply with the law

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